Yemen sentences nine to jail for arms smuggling

ADEN, Yemen Tue Nov 12, 2013 5:16am EST

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ADEN, Yemen (Reuters) - A Yemeni court handed down jail sentences of between one and 10 years each to nine Yemenis on Tuesday for their involvement in the smuggling of weapons aboard a ship, judicial sources said.

Yemeni forces intercepted the Jihan 1 off Yemen's coast in January. U.S. and Yemeni officials said it was carrying a large cache of weapons, including surface-to-air missiles, being smuggled from Iran to insurgents in Yemen.

The sources said one of those tried was sentenced in absentia.

Gulf Arab governments and their Sunni clerical allies accuse regional Shi'ite Muslim power Iran of backing co-religionist communities around the region. Yemen has also accused Iran of trying to meddle in its affairs.

Yemen has been embroiled in a rebellion by Shi'ite Muslim Houthis, mainly based in the north of the country.

The tensions flared into full-blown clashes between the Houthis and their Sunni Muslim Salafi rivals in the town of Dammaj on October 30 in which at least 100 people have died.

(Reporting by Mohamed Mukhashaf; Writing by Yara Bayoumy; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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